The field of education is continually expanding, and the need for people with master’s degrees in education shows no sign of slowing down. Before choosing to obtain a master’s in early childhood education, it’s important to remember that students must first have a bachelor’s degree in education, which usually takes four years, although it can be obtained in less time.

Defining Early Childhood Education

According to the U.S. News and World Report, early childhood education is defined as pre-school up through third grade. Individuals who have a master’s degree in early childhood education tend to work primarily as preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school teachers. Some individuals choose a path with childcare providers or work with students who have special needs.

Ranking: Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees Online

Narrowing the Focus

The first thing to consider is which path to follow. There are a variety of different areas in which to focus, ranging from education administration through school counseling and curriculum development. The area a student chooses to study can directly affect the length of time needed in order to obtain the degree.

Enrollment Status

The amount of time needed to get the online degree in education depends upon whether the student will have a full-time or a part-time status. If someone is having to balance educational needs with either a job or by having home-life responsibilities, obtaining the degree might take longer than someone who is focusing all available time and energy on their education.

Accelerated Programs

Some of the online schools offer accelerated programs, which can actually take as little as a year to complete. These programs are time- and energy-intensive, and only students who can devote all their attention to these programs will find them useful. In most cases, students who are holding down jobs tend to ignore the accelerated programs.

Full-time Students

Full-time students can expect to earn their degree in approximately two years. Students who are extremely focused can often take less time than someone going at the recommended pace. Additionally, different online courses vary in both the amount of time needed to complete them, as well as how the credits are viewed.

Part-time Students

Part-time students will usually take three to four years to obtain their online master’s degree in education. Some students have alternated full-time education with part-time education, as well. They may go part-time and have a part-time job for a period of time, then stop working for a while in order to go to school full-time.


Before students choose an online program to follow, it’s important to make certain the program has been accredited by the United States Department of Education. An accredited school has been thoroughly vetted by the Department of Education and has shown it can meet all of the government guidelines.

Bilingual Status

Some online master’s programs focus on bilingual educational needs. It takes longer to obtain those degrees if someone is not completely fluent in the second language. Due to the increased merging of many cultures worldwide,  bilingual students who have obtained master’s degrees in early childhood education are believed to be highly sought after for the foreseeable future.

Students wanting to put in the time and the energy into obtaining a master’s in early childhood education can expect to see results in as little as a year all the way through four years or longer. Finding the right online course requires doing research, as well as realistically deciding how much of their time they can devote to the program.

Source: National Association for the Education of Young Children